plAy: Art from Myanmar Today
In this first major exhibition of Myanma art, curated by Isabel Ching and Yin Ker, the theme of ¡§play¡¨ is explored as a significant force in the way life is played out on a daily basis in Myanmar. The exhibition explores the diversity of the play element in the way thirteen Myanmar artists born between the 1940s and 1980s negotiate with life and art today.
A noun and a verb, ¡§play¡¨ can be static or active. In Soe Naing¡¦s work, the moment of play is showcased within a floating net. Myat Kyawt¡¦s Energy is played in perpetual operation: it is set in motion each time one casts a disc that in turn sets off another, with each representative of the links within the cycle of Dependent Origination ¡V an act that metaphorically fulfills the law of cause and effect. In other instances, the cutoff points of whence play commences and ceases are more fluid, as with Min Thein Sung¡¦s Restroom, Po Po¡¦s Terrace and Zar Min Htike¡¦s dreams. They seesaw between the recollection and reenactment of ¡§play¡¨ defined as moments of respite from reality.
However, ¡§play¡¨ is not necessarily just enjoyment and recreation. In the words of Dutch physiologist, Johan Huizinga, who penned in Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, ¡¥Play exceeds laughter and the comic; play is beyond games and toys. Its nature is beyond logic and dons the garb of paradoxy. Indeed, it often operates in defiance of reason though not wisdom. In play is seriousness of a primeval tongue.¡¦ It is this power of play that animates Myat Kyawt¡¦s People of Grace, Tun Win Aung¡¦s Train and Wah Nu¡¦s Aung Zeya Light Project. Here, play becomes the instrument that transcends the constraints of reality, whether ideological, affective or practical. It transmutes to associate with forces of resilience, enabling one to see light where there is none. In MPP Yei Myint¡¦s Playing with Three Numbers, NCS¡¦s Near Mandalay and Nat, and Ko Z¡¦s Empty Road, play is further stretched to combat the forces of ignorance and oppression through satire. The semblances of play are sometimes assumed as a stratagem, as in Aung Myint¡¦s Intruders, NCS¡¦s Who Is It? and Ko Z¡¦s Room.
With the many colours and paradoxes of play ¡V from its jocular character to its carnivalesque expression and its potential for irony, plAy: Art from Myanmar Today seeks to explore and expose the intricacies of present-day Myanma art.
Opening reception for the above exhibition will be held on Saturday, 8 May 2010 from 5.00pm to 7.30pm. A performance by participating artist Aung Myint will commence at 5.15pm.